Following the Customs vehicle accident in Jibia, a border town in Katsina, which killed at least 10 people and injured several others, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) has sent a delegation to commiserate with the government and people of the state.
However, the delegation, led by the Zonal Coordinator Zone “B”, of the NCS Acting ACG, Uba Muhammad, was received with anger by the government of the state as well as civil society organizations.
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Katsina state governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has told the delegation constituted by the Comptroller General of Customs over the Jibia incident that the victims must be adequately compensated and culprits prosecuted.
He said if that was not done, the state would have no other option than to try the legal system in ensuring justice to the victims of the unfortunate incidence.
“Convey our message to your Comptroller General that our position is very clear that you must compensate those who lost their lives and those who sustained injury, prosecute those who did it. Failure to do that, we will take the necessary legal action. We may not succeed, but we will test it,” he said.
Masari, who said he was only forced to receive the delegation in his office, told the delegation that the Nigerian Customs service was biased against Katsina people despite the massive contribution given by the indigenes of the state towards the development of the agency.
“I can’t understand why you are biased against Katsina people, especially under this present administration. The audacity of customs here in Katsina, my own official vehicle was once arrested here by the customs officers, with court of Arm and everything,” he said.
He maintained that in the distance of about forty kilometres from Katsina to Jibiya, there were 28 check points of the customs, saying they were not actually checkpoints but tall gates.
The governor recalled an incident when the operatives of the Nigerian customs were shooting guns sporadically in the Katsina city centre in the broad daylight, while bandits were killing people in the border communities.
He said the border drill as far as he was concerned is mightier than mighty as he once complained about it to the CG but he said it is beyond his control.
25 killed in the last 3 years – Jibia/Kaita Rep
The Member representing Jibia/Kaita federal constituency, Hon. Sada Soli, who was with the governor to receive the customs delegation, said the relationship between the operatives of the NCS and Jibia people is a very bad one as 25 people were killed by customs in the last three years alone.
“We are not happy with the conduct of the operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service. In the course of three years, we have the records, the customs killed 25 people in Jibia, and this is the first time the killing is generating this interest,” he said.
Enough is enough – CSOs
On their part, the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Katsina, represented by Dr Bashir Ruwan Godiya, said the CSOs in the state would no longer condone the attitude of the customs operatives in the state.
“There is no point whatsoever that somebody trained, interested and given the opportunity to protect lives, will turn into a killer of lives because of rice.
No matter how much billions you can call that you generated for the government that a single life will be killed for that amount. Why and how on earth that your officer will continue to recklessly kill our people and this is on for over two decades now,” Ruwan Godiya inquired.
“Your visit here is not enough and will not bring anything to us, unless we see action, change and difference in what is going on in these border communities from what is going to be after the visit,” he added.
Ruwan Godiya said the mode of operation of the border drill must be revisited, maintaining that it was inhumane for them to be pursuing rice at the expense of human lives.
Earlier in his presentation the leader of the delegation, Ag. ACG Uba Muhammad, said the delegation was in the state to commiserate with the government and people of the state as well as interact with the affected community to make an assessment of the incident to report back to the CGC for further action.
“As part of the condolence, the CGS has directed the delegation to interact with the host community, with the permission of the governor, the bereaved families with a view to reporting back our findings,” he said.